What you need to know:
- An outsider looking in would of course assume that all this means that the military is super-efficient and corruption-free
When the only tool you have in your toolbox is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail. A proverb that my old boss Amos Kajoba, former Editor of The People Newspaper, (bless his soul) liked to use from time to time…when throwing fiery darts at President Yoweri Museveni.
Just like those Maasai chaps that you find all over the place, wearing bright and lively regalia, and peddling a herbal concoction in little jerrycans. It is just one concoction, but they assure it will cure just about everything you suffer from: headache, stomachache, backache, ulcers, rheumatism and lumbago, arthritis and asthma, German Measles and Budaka Measles, chickenpox and smallpox, marasmus, beriberi, kwashiorkor, cancer of the lungs, cancer of the pancreas, cancer of the kidney, cancer of the colon. Even impotence. Just take a sip, several times a day till the jerrycan is empty and you’ll be top drawer!
For Mr. Museveni the only tool he has in his toolbox appears to be the military; which is why every time he is faced with a conundrum, he calls up the military – in every place that is strategic in terms of either the exercise of state power or the deployment of huge national resources, or both.
So you have the Police Force, for almost two decades headed or controlled by military personnel: Gen. Katumba Wamala from 2001 to 2005, then Gen. Kale Kayihura from 2005 to 2018. After Kayihura, a quintessential cop took over the Inspector General of Police duties, but the deployment of Brig. Sabiiti Muzeyi as Deputy meant that the de facto power, which is what matters most in this government, lay at the Number Two level, which was eventually taken over by the ill-fated “Lion of Mogadishu”, Maj. Gen. Paul Lokech a year ago.
When the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) developed ulcers, the military was called in. The military also runs the amorphous, incomprehensible, ever failing, never succeeding, Operation Wealth Creation (OWC). The very strategic Ministry of Internal Affairs is controlled by the military, as are critical positions in almost every ministry. Plus most of the critical agencies, including, of course, the Uganda Revenue Authority. Wherever you see a soldier at a strategic level in a civilian establishment, you know that is where the power lies, regardless of office held.
An outsider looking in would of course assume that all this means that the military is super-efficient and corruption-free, thereby making it attractive to the Old Man to use everywhere that matters…but that illusion only lasts a tad, because by the time you are through with reading about the never-ending corruption scandals in the military, you are much the wiser.
How the military, which cannot handle its own matters with any kind of efficiency and integrity is expected to be efficient and holy in civilian sectors simply boggles the mind; kind of like the little fellow who was always a lizard running about the grasses, but was confident that he could become a crocodile if allowed to slide into the hallowed marshy environs of the lake shore.
So now we have bomb blasts going off in the Capital, after inexcusable, otherwise court-martial-able failure of intelligence and within a matter of weeks, the military is [back] in the DR Congo, to attack camps of the Allied Democratic Front (ADF).
For those far from the warfront, it is exciting seeing still and moving pictures of the attacks. It is a great public relations gimmick for the Museveni Administration. It is a show of force and might, a hint that we are a regional power and all that. But when you begin to analyse the situation in a sober manner, all this falls apart. We have been in the DR Congo several times before in the last quarter century and the devastation we caused is a story people fear to tell, not to mention the ten billion dollar bill imposed by the International Court of Justice that the taxpayers must pay to DRC, for wealth stolen by a few army officers most of whom are alive and well, and enjoying their loot without prosecution or payback.
There are many, far better solutions to sorting out terrorism, but they are irrelevant in Uganda where the only tool that the President has in his toolbox is the military.
Mr Tegulle is an advocate of the High Court of Uganda [email protected]